The postponement of the Ottawa Senators’ upcoming slate of games amidst a Coronavirus outbreak in the locker room has certainly raised some flags across the league. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that many are concerned not only about the ongoing crisis the in Ottawa, but about the frequency of cases popping up around the league. With more than 99% of players and all coaches and staff vaccinated, it is alarming how frequently individuals are being forced to enter the NHL’s COVID Protocol. There was talk earlier this season of reducing testing due to many of those in the protocol being asymptomatic, but in Ottawa and recently in San Jose as well, those sidelined by COVID have in fact been very symptomatic. The league had no choice but to postpone Senators games as the roster had been depleted by the sickness sweeping through the locker room and keeping players off the ice for far longer than just a simple formality might for others in the protocol. As Dreger points out though, the league cannot afford multiple postponements such as this. On one hand, the season is already longer than usual due to the Olympic break and on the other the league cannot take the revenue hit of missed games after two consecutive shortened seasons. As of right now, the only steps being taken by the league to combat the COVID issue is to recommend boosters to its players and personnel. However, re-enacted restrictions could be coming down the line if cases continue at this rate.
- The Olympics could be at risk if the NHL is unable to control their COVID cases and postponements continue. However, Pierre LeBrun does not believe that this conversation is being had just yet. The NHL and NHLPA agreed to terms – with each other and with the IIHF – to return to the Winter Games this year and that remains the plan. However, there is a January 10 opt-out date should the league decide that they need the currently-scheduled break to make up games postponed due to COVID. LeBrun says that there is no hard number that would trigger the NHL to pull out of the Olympics, but it will have to be an ongoing discussion between the league and players’ association. For now, he states that the two sides just met recently to discuss Olympic plans and are moving forward as planned.
- Also moving forward as planned: the Vancouver Canucks. Patience is wearing thin amongst the fan base as the Canucks are off to another rough start this season, winning just five of their first 16 games and holding a bottom-five scoring differential league-wide. Despite adding more talent this off-season to an already-healthy payroll and largely avoiding injuries to key players thus far, the Canucks again look like they are far from a contender. Dreger reports that GM Jim Benning was called to meet with ownership about a path forward and they ultimately decided… to stay the course. Ownership apparently still believes in the plan that Benning and coach Travis Green have for the team, even though it has yielded few results thus far. Both sides will continue to preach patience to a rabid fan base that is growing tired of continued mediocrity. If things don’t change in Vancouver this season, it won’t be long until ownership joins the malcontents.
They can just host the Hockey tournament In North America
let the guys go if they want to. it always has been and always shood be up to each player.
Agreed. Seems to be the way to go. Let teams place them on the restricted list and call up any replacements. The only team it will really impact are the ones in the mid-tier who will have to battle for their postseason spots. But that up to the players to decide which they value more.
The league had to know that postponement of games would be inevitable due to their covid protocals, and yet they still want to disrupt the season for at least two weeks to go play in the CCP Olympics.
To say the least, this leagues priorities are questionable.
Can you fix the beginning sentence of the word ‘one’? You put ‘one’ twice. Please & thank you.
One one hand, the season is already longer than usual due to the Olympic break and on the other the league cannot take the revenue hit of missed games after two consecutive shortened seasons.